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HMRC enquiries re-start

Written by: Emma Lunn
HMRC is restarting its enquiries into taxpayers’ affairs after suspending investigations as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

HMRC is resuming investigations into business and personal taxes after a break due to coronavirus.

The tax man could now be looking at things such as whether employees worked while furloughed and internet trading during lockdown, as well as its usual investigations.

Fiona Fernie, tax dispute resolution partner at accountants Blick Rothenberg, says: “The recent pause in HMRC’s routine enquiry work is over and they are starting to contact both taxpayers and their agents again. A representative of HMRC to whom we spoke on Wednesday confirmed that the temporary pause in enquiries was being lifted this week.”

“This means that tax inspectors will be looking at both personal and business tax affairs with renewed vigour; they will be looking to see whether those who were not supposed to be working during furlough were and investigating things like internet trading while the lockdown has been in place.”

The tax man paused investigations in mid-April due to  potential problems with accessing information caused by the lockdown, and staffing issues. This means it didn’t ask for information or documents for ongoing enquiries or press for responses to requests already made.

Fernie says: “The assistance Government has provided to businesses and individual taxpayers in recent months have been costly and they will want to ensure that borrowing requirements are not exacerbated by taxpayers who are not paying the correct amount of tax.  There is no doubt that HMRC will be under pressure from Government to look at anyone who they think is defrauding the system as a matter of urgency.”

Anyone who was due to pay their self-assessment tax bill in July 2020 now has the option to delay this until 31 January 2021. There will be no penalties or interest if you choose to defer.

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